Why We Need Women’s Voices in Audiobooks
As 2018 dawned in a gloomy haze, I did something I never do: I set intentions for the New Year. I won’t call them resolutions, because that word feels too rigid. But after the weird, complex, and horror-filled year of 2017, I needed to ground myself in something small that means something to me.
So I did what many, if not most, self-identified readers do: I took the opportunity of a new year, filled with promise amidst the trepidation, to voice my intention to read more books.
My main strategy is to start listening to audiobooks in addition to the rarer moments I’m able to snag to read physical books. I spend a lot of time driving for work, and usually listen to podcasts. But this year I’m going for longer-form listening,
So far, midway through January, I’m doing AMAZING. I’ve listened to so many more books than I could’ve read physical copies of. I’m making excellent use of Libby. And I’ve discovered something unexpected, but also unsurprising: I love listening to women read books out loud.
I’ve been seeking out audiobooks read by women, partly as a way to support women’s voices in audiobooks, and partly because I just really love women in general. And let me tell you, it has brought a lot of joy to my dull January days.
From Gabrielle Union, Luvvie Ajayi and Lindy West using their voices to tell their own stories and throw some epic and well-deserved shade, to Tracy Wiles reading Amy Liptrot’s The Outrun and bringing her Scottish accent to a story so rooted in place, to Elizabeth Gilbert’s loving reading of her creative advice in Big Magic, I got hooked. Hooked on listening to women speak. On their voices flowing through my ears, coating my brain in their wisdom and observations. On the bolstering feeling I get when I hear women speak, confidently, about so many things, hard and funny and sad and powerful. Listening to women read out loud, especially when they are reading their own books.
Much of the world is still an unfriendly, if not dangerous, place for women’s voices. Despite the ripples of the #MeToo moment and the strides of intersectional feminist movements like Black Lives Matter, women are still harassed and abused when they use their voices, especially in digital spaces. Coming after women for vocal fry and up-speaking is somehow still a thing, as are complaints from the trolls of the world that they cannot for the life of them tell women’s voices apart.
But rather than let my ire at this reality cloud my days, I will continue to listen to my fellow women (and queers, and non-binary, and trans siblings). I will hold their voices in my mind and let them flow into my heart as they read.